Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Michael Jackson Flashback: King of Pop Paid Marlon Brando $1 Million to Appear, and Speak, at His 30th Anniversary Show


Editor’s Note: Today would have been Michael Jackson’s 61st birthday. I wrote this back on July 18, 2002. Michael and Brando had a complicated relationship with each other, and with everyone else. A new “report” today claims that Brando gave the LAPD a report in 1994 about Michael’s relationship with children. If it were true, believe me, now deceased DA Tom Sneddon would have used it in the 2005 trial. Brando died in 2004. Anyway, Brando and Jackson remained close friends til the end, and Brando appeared on stage in September 2001 at Michael’s 30th anniversary show at MSG. Later, I found out he was induced by a large payment. (So was Liz Taylor. She got $600,000 worth of jewelry.)

Jacko Gave Brando a Million Bucks

You wonder how people spend their money.

Well, Michael Jackson, currently in financial distress and taking a beating in the press from Sony Music’s Tommy Mottola, doesn’t know the bounds of generosity.

I’m told by reliable insiders that Jackson paid aging genius actor Marlon Brando $1 million last fall to be in his famous 30th anniversary show at Madison Square Garden.

You remember Brando at the Garden, don’t you? He waddled onto the stage like a lost circus elephant, took his place in a living-room set and put the audience to sleep with a half-hour filibuster on why he loves Jackson.

The performance was so boring it had to be cut from the televised show.

A week or so later, when the money was counted, Brando was sent $1 million, according to my sources. Even with ticket prices for the best seats going for an average $500-$800 — and top seats at $5,000 — it would have been hard for Jackson to cover Brando’s nut (so to speak).

CBS paid Jackson $2 million for the broadcast of the show, so that would have helped.

When I called Brando yesterday for confirmation or denial of this, he got on his house phone, wheezed, said, “I don’t talk to the press!” then slammed the phone down.

Neither Creative Artists Agency or International Creative Management still represent him, so they couldn’t help out in extracting more information.

A friend of Brando’s who’s in touch with him (but didn’t give me his number), said: “A million dollars? It’s not so much these days, considering.” He wouldn’t confirm the story, but he said he couldn’t deny it either.

Another Jackson associate told me: “A million bucks. Yeah, I heard that. That’s why Michael has so little cash for himself.”

We wondered what was going on that night with Brando. Wearing sunglasses and looking like a Blues Brother, he expounded for a ghastly 10 minutes on subjects of little or no interest to the pumped-up audience.

He said, “You may be thinking, ‘Who is that old fat fart sitting there?'”

At one point he actually removed his wristwatch and said, “In the last minute, 100,000 children have been hacked to death with a machete.”

He concluded by instructing the audience to go to michaeljackson.com and donate money. The audience — many of whom came from Los Angeles in wheelchairs or on walkers — booed and booed, and with good cause.

Brando’s last movie was The Score with Robert De Niro and Edward Norton. He made a cameo appearance and the movie failed to score with audiences.

If Brando has many sources of income besides acting, it’s unknown. But his gig at the Garden looks like it might have been his most profitable one in years.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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